Man of La Mancha

A TAMS-WITMARK TITLE

Full Length Musical, Dramatic Comedy  /  5f, 6m

Written by Dale Wasserman / Music by Mitch Leigh / Lyrics by Joe Darion / Original Production Staged by Albert Marre / Originally Produced by Albert W. Selden and Hal James

The heartbreaking and inspirational Tony Award-winning musical, based on Cervantes' Don Quixote, about one man’s refusal to give up his impossible dream.

Photo: Joan Marcus

Man of La Mancha
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OVERVIEW

  • Cast Size
    Cast Size
    5f, 6m
  • Duration
    Duration
    More than 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • SubGenre
    Subgenre
    Adaptations (Literature), Period, Docudrama/Historic
  • Audience
    Target Audience
    • Appropriate for all audiences
Accolades
Accolades
  • Winner! Five 1966 Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Composer/Lyricist
    Nominee: Three 2003 Tony Awards, including Best Revival of a Musical
    Nominee: Two 2003 Drama Desk Awards, including Outstanding Revival of a Musical

Description
Man of La Mancha is one of the world’s most popular musicals. Inspired by Miguel de Cervantes’ seventeenth-century masterwork Don Quixote and set during the Spanish Inquisition, the original 1965 production won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Cervantes is in prison awaiting trial during the Spanish Inquisition. He and his fellow prisoners perform a play-within-a-play, telling the story of the elderly Alonso Quijana, who renames himself "Don Quixote" and goes on a quest to right all wrongs in the world. The rousing, Spanish-inflected score includes the classic numbers “The Impossible Dream,” “I, Don Quixote,” “Dulcinea,” “I Really Like Him” and “Little Bird.”
History
Man of La Mancha, which features a book by Dale Wasserman, music by Mitch Leigh and lyrics by Joe Darion, is adapted from Wasserman’s 1959 teleplay I, Don Quixote. This in turn was inspired by Miguel de Cervantes and his 17th-century classic Don Quixote.

The show made its world premiere in 1965 at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, Connecticut, and later that year made its New York premiere at the ANTA Washington Square Theatre. Man of La Mancha won five Tony Awards in 1966, garnering the trophies for Best Musical, Best Composer and Lyricist, Best Actor in a Musical for Richard Kiley, Best Scenic Design for Howard Bay and Best Direction of a Musical for Albert Marre.

Man of La Mancha moved to the Martin Beck Theatre on March 20, 1968, followed by the Eden Theatre on March 3, 1971 and for the last month of its Broadway run in May of that year, the Mark Hellinger Theatre. The original production ran in New York for 2,328 performances and the show has subsequently been revived four times since on the Great White Way, most recently in a 2002 incarnation led by Brian Stokes Mitchell.

In London, Man of La Mancha, starring Keith Michell, first bowed in the West End on April 24, 1968 at the Piccadilly Theatre, where it played 253 performances. The 1972 film adaptation was headlined by Peter O'Toole, James Coco and Sophia Loren.

Man of La Mancha has played around the world, with productions in Dutch, French, German, Hebrew, Irish, Japanese, Korean, Icelandic, Gujarati, Uzbek, Bulgarian, Hungarian, Serbian, Slovenian, Swahili, Finnish, Ukrainian and nine different Spanish dialects of the Spanish language. Cast albums are available in multiple languages.
Miguel de Cervantes, aging and an utter failure in his varied careers as playwright, poet and tax collector, sits in a Seville dungeon with his manservant, awaiting trial by the Spanish Inquisition for an offense against the Church. The other prisoners set up a mock trial: if Cervantes is found guilty, he will hand over all his possessions. Cervantes agrees to do so, and offers his defense in the form of a play. Producing a makeup kit, he transforms himself into an old man who calls himself Don Quixote de La Mancha.

Quixote and his “squire,” Sancho Panza, set out to find adventures in a campaign to restore the age of chivalry, to battle evil, and to right all wrongs (“I, Don Quixote”). In their first encounter, Don Quixote spots a windmill and mistakes it for a four-armed giant. Losing the battle, Don Quixote blames the mysterious workings of his enemy, The Dark Enchanter, and decides he must properly be dubbed a knight.

At a roadside inn, which Quixote insists is a castle, several rough muleteers harass Aldonza, the inn’s serving girl and part-time prostitute. Fending them off sarcastically (“It’s All The Same”), she eventually deigns to accept their leader, Pedro, who pays in advance. Quixote sees Aldonza, and believes her to be the Lady Dulcinea, to whom he has sworn eternal loyalty (“Dulcinea”). Aldonza, accustomed to cruelty, is confused and angered by Quixote’s refusal to see her as she really is.

Meanwhile, Don Quixote’s niece, Antonia, seeks advice from the local priest, who realises Antonia and her housekeeper are more concerned with appearances than with the old man’s welfare (“I’m Only Thinking of Him”). Antonia’s fiancé, the cynical and self-centered Dr. Carrasco, sets out to end the embarrassment by bringing Don Quixote back home (“I’m Only Thinking of Him” Reprise).

Back at the inn, Sancho courts Aldonza on Don Quixote’s behalf, but she spurns Quixote’s advances. Aldonza asks Sancho why he follows Quixote, and he explains, “I Really Like Him.” Alone, Aldonza ponders the old man’s behavior (“What Do You Want of Me?”). In the courtyard, the muleteers once again taunt her with a suggestive song (“Little Bird, Little Bird”) and Pedro makes arrangements with Aldonza for an assignation later.

The priest and Dr. Carrasco arrive, but cannot reason with Don Quixote. A barber enters, wearing his shaving basin on his head to ward off the sun’s heat (“The Barber’s Song”). Quixote immediately snatches the basin from the barber, believing it to be the miraculous “Golden Helmet of Mambrino,” which will make him invulnerable. The priest, impressed, wonders whether the old man really needs curing (“To Each His Dulcinea”).

Quixote asks the Innkeeper to dub him knight. The innkeeper agrees, only if Quixote stands vigil over his armour all night. Aldonza, on her way to meet Pedro, encounters Quixote in the courtyard and questions him on his seemingly irrational ways. Quixote responds with his credo (“The Impossible Dream”).

Pedro enters, furious at being kept waiting, and slaps Aldonza. Enraged, Don Quixote fights Pedro and the other muleteers (“The Combat”). With luck and determination – and the help of Aldonza and Sancho – Quixote prevails, knocking the muleteers unconscious. The noise awakens the Innkeeper, who kindly tells Quixote he must leave. Quixote apologises but reminds the Innkeeper of his promise to dub him knight. The Innkeeper does so (“Knight of the Woeful Countenance”).

Quixote announces he must help the muleteers; the laws of chivalry demand that he nurse a fallen enemy. Aldonza, whom Quixote still calls Dulcinea, is shocked, but she agrees to help them. For her efforts, she is beaten and raped by the muleteers, (“The Abduction”). In his room, Quixote celebrates his new title and recent victory, completely unaware of Aldonza’s suffering (“The Impossible Dream” Reprise).

Quixote and Sancho return to their travels (“I, Don Quixote” Reprise). They encounter a band of gypsies (“Moorish Dance”) who steal Quixote’s horse and Sancho’s donkey. The two men are forced to return to the inn, where the Innkeeper begrudgingly accepts them. Aldonza appears, severely bruised. Quixote swears to avenge her, but she angrily rejects him, begging him to leave her alone and bitterly flinging her pitiful history in his face (“Aldonza”).

Don Quixote’s mortal enemy, the Enchanter, appears in the form of the “Knight of the Mirrors.” He attacks and taunts Quixote, forcing him to see himself objectively, as a fool and a madman. Don Quixote collapses, weeping. The Knight of the Mirrors removes his own helmet – he is really Dr. Carrasco, returned with his latest plan to cure Quixote.

Cervantes announces that the story is finished, at least as far as he has written it, but the prisoners are dissatisfied with the ending. They prepare to burn his manuscript when he asks for the chance to present one last scene.

At home again, the old man who once called himself Don Quixote is dying. Antonia, Carrasco, Sancho, the housekeeper, and the priest all wait by his bedside. Sancho tries to cheer him up (“A Little Gossip”). The old man claims that he is now sane, remembering his knightly career only as a vague dream. Acknowledging that he is now dying, he asks the priest to help him make out his will. As he begins to dictate, Aldonza forces her way in. She has come to visit Quixote because she can no longer bear to be anyone but Dulcinea. When he does not recognise her, she sings to him (“Dulcinea” Reprise) and reminds him of his noble quest (“The Impossible Dream” Reprise). Suddenly, he remembers everything and rises from his bed, calling for his armor and sword so that he may set out again. (“I, Don Quixote” 2nd Reprise) But it is too late; in mid-song, he cries out and falls dead. The priest blesses the body (“The Psalm”). But Aldonza believes Don Quixote will live on: “A man died. He seemed a good man, but I did not know him… Don Quixote is not dead. Believe, Sancho… believe.” When Sancho calls her by name, she replies, “My name is Dulcinea.”

The Inquisition enters to take Cervantes to his trial, and the prisoners, finding him not guilty, return his manuscript, his unfinished novel, Don Quixote de la Mancha. As Cervantes and his servant mount the staircase to go to their impending trial, the prisoners, led by the woman who played Dulcinea, sing “The Impossible Dream.”

Considerations

Performing Groups
  • High School/Secondary
  • College Theatre / Student
  • Community Theatre
  • Dinner Theatre
  • Professional Theatre
  • Outdoor
Cautions
  • Mild Adult Themes

Licence details

  • Licensing fees and rental materials quoted upon application.

Specifics

Details

  • Time Period: 17th Century
  • Duration: More than 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • Additional Features: Not Applicable
  • Features / Contains: Period Costumes

Setting:

Man of La Mancha takes place in Spain at the end of the 16th century. A prison in the city of Seville and various places in the imagination of Miguel de Cervantes.

Setting:
The common room of a stone prison vault whose furthest reaches are lost in shadow. It has niches and crannies where the prisoners make their nests. It is below ground, reached by a stairway which may be raised and lowered, draw-bridge style, and is lighted by scant, cold rays sifting through a grille overhead. A trap door in the floor may be raised to permit access to a level still lower. Stage right there is a fire covered by a grille, and stage left an open well. Other scenic elements are placed and removed by the prisoners as indicated.

The prison vault is actually a single basic set within whose architecture the Don Quixote scenes devised by Cervantes are played. In nature it is an abstract platform whose elements are fluid and adaptable. The primary effect to be achieved is that of improvisation; it must seem as though all scenic, prop and costume items are adapted from materials already on stage, augmented by effects from Cervantes’ theatrical trunk. Only in the inner play—as devised by Cervantes—is there musical style and form. The prison scenes framing the inner play are not “musicalised” in the sense that there is no singing or dancing in these except as may be motivated realistically.

Casting

5f, 6m
Cast Attributes
  • Ensemble cast
  • Reduced casting (Doubling Possible)
  • Expandable casting
  • Multicultural casting
  • Room for Extras
  • Strong Role for Leading Man (Star Vehicle)
  • Parts for Senior Actors
PRINCIPALS
(5 female; 6 male)

Aldonza—Dulcinea
Antonia—Alonso’s niece
Fermina—Moorish Girl dancer
Maria—Innkeeper’s wife
Housekeeper—employee of Alonso
Miguel de Cervantes (Don Quixote and Alonso Quijana)
Sancho Panza—manservant
Barber
Padre
Dr. Sanson Carrasco—Antonia’s fiancé and Knight of the Mirrors
Innkeeper

SUPPORTING CHARACTERS
Captain of the Inquisition—played by a prisoner
Governor—played by a prisoner
Duke—played by a prisoner
Four Attendants to the Knight—played by prisoners
Seven Muleteers: Jose, Tenorio, Paco, Juan, Anselmo, Pedro and a Guitar Player—prisoners

ENSEMBLE

Soldiers
Prisoners
Prison Guards
Gypsies (Moors)
Men of the Inquisition

COMMENTS
The original Broadway production had a cast of 23 performers, including chorus. Doubling was employed, including as indicated above.

VOCAL REQUIREMENTS
Miguel de Cervantes (Don Quixote and Alonso Quijana)—Tenor/High Baritone 
Sancho—Tenor 
Padre—Tenor/High Baritone 
Anselmo—Tenor (+ Falsetto) 
Carrasco—Baritone/Tenor 
Barber—Tenor 
Innkeeper—Baritone 
Aldonza—Mezzo-Soprano 
Antonia—Soprano 
Housekeeper—Alto (but needs high range)

Music

  • Musical Style: Classic Broadway
  • Dance Requirements: Minimal
  • Vocal Demands: Moderate
  • Orchestra Size: Large
  • Chorus Size: Medium
Overture – Orchestra
1. Prison Scene (Flamenco) – Cantaor
1a. "Man of La Mancha (I, Don Quixote)" – Don Quixote & Sancho
2. Underscore: The Enchanter – Orchestra
2a. Fight of The Windmills – Orchestra
2b. Playoff: Man of La Mancha – Orchestra
3. Underscore: Man of La Manca – Orchestra
3a. “It’s All The Same” – Aldonza & Muleteers
4. “Dulcinea” – Don Quixote, Anselino, & Muleteers
5. “I’m Only Thinking Of Him” – Antonia, Housekeeper & Padre
6. Tag: “We’re Only Thinking Of Him” – Dr. Carrasco, Padre, Antonia & Housekeeper
6a. Underscore/“Dulcinea” – Sancho
6b. “The Missive” – Sancho
7. “I Really Like Him” – Sancho
8. “What Does He Want of Me?” – Aldonza
8a. “Little Bird, Little Bird” – Cervantes, Anselino, Pedro & Muleteers
9. “Barber’s Song” – Barber
10. “Golden Helmet of Mambrino” – Don Quixote, Barber, Sancho & Muleteers
11. “To Each His Dulcinea” – Padre
12. Underscore: The Impossible Dream – Orchestra
13. “The Impossible Dream” – Don Quixote
14. The Combat – Orchestra
15. “The Dubbing” – Innkeeper & Don Quixote
15b. “Knight of the Woeful Countenance” – Innkeeper, ldonza & Sancho
16. “The Abduction” – Anselino, Padre & Fermina
17. Reprise: “The Impossible Dream” – Don Quixote
17a. Reprise: “Man of La Mancha” – Don Quixote
18. Moorish Dance – Chorus of Moors
18a. Underscore: The Dubbing – Orchestra
19. “Aldonza” – Aldonza
20. Knight of the Mirrors Entrance – Orchestra
21. Fight Sequence – Orchestra
22. Underscore: I’m Only Thinking of Him – Orchestra
23. “A Little Gossip” – Sancho
24. Underscore: Aldonza – Orchestra
25. Reprise: “Dulcinea” – Aldonza
26. Reprise: “The Impossible Dream” – Don Quixote
27. Reprise II: “Man of La Mancha” – Don Quixote, Sancho, & Aldonza
28. “The Psalm” – Padre
29. Finale: “The Impossible Dream” – Full Company
30. Bows – Orchestra
31. Exit Music – Orchestra

Full Orchestration

Reed 1 – Flute (I) and Piccolo (I)
Reed 2 – Flute (II) and Piccolo (II) NOTE: The Reed II part is optional.
Reed 3 – Oboe
Reed 4 – Clarinet (I)
Reed 5 – Bassoon and Clarinet (II)

Horn 1 & 2
Trumpet 1 & 2
Trombone 1 (Tenor)
Trombone 2 (Bass)

String Bass
Guitar 1 & 2 (Spanish) NOTE: This part includes all Stage Guitar music.
Timpani (2 pedal or 3 hand-tuned Drums)
Percussion 1&2:

I:
Drum Set
Snare Drum
Bass Drum
Floor Tom Tom
Suspended Cymbal
Triangle

II:
Tambourine
Castanets
Temple Blocks (or 2 Wood Blocks)
Larger Floor Tom Tom
Suspended Cymbal
Finger Cymbals
Xylophone
Bells

Materials

Scripts

Rehearsal Resources

Music Material Rental Packages Glyphs / UI / Tooltip

Full Package:
1 Piano/Conductor Score
39 Libretto/Vocal Books
1 Reed 1
1 Reed 2
1 Reed 3
1 Reed 4
1 Reed 5
2 Horn 1&2
2 Trumpet 1&2
1 Trombone 1
1 Trombone 2
2 Guitar 1&2
1 Timpani
2 Percussion 1 & 2
1 Bass

Piano Only:
1 Piano/Conductor
39 Libretto/Vocal book

Additional Resources And Services Available

Media

Press

Man of La Mancha has a heart that sings and a spirit that soars.” - Rolling Stone
“A metaphysical smasheroo.” - Life

Man of La Mancha is a triumph of creative imagination and stagecraft.” - New York Post 

“An exquisite musical play—the finest and most original work in our musical theatre since Fiddler on the Roof opened. It moves enthrallingly from an imaginative beginning to a heart-wrenching end.” - John Chapman, New York Daily News 

“To reach the unreachable star—what a soaring aspiration for an indestructible dreamer, and what a glorious summation for a bold and beautiful new musical...Thus it goes all evening—realism aligned with romanticism, and each sharpened by the other.” - Norman Nadel, World-Telegram & Sun

Videos

  • Man of La Mancha - Barrington Stage

  • Man of La Mancha - Westport Playhouse

  • "The Impossible Dream" 2003 Tony Awards

  • Richard Kiley - 1972 Tony Awards

More videos +

Photos

  • Man of La Mancha

    Credit: Joan Marcus

More

Authors

Dale Wasserman

Dale Wasserman (1914-2008) wrote for theater, television and film for more than 50 years and is best known for the musical Man of La Mancha, a multiple Tony Award winner. He also wrote the stage play One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, based on Ken Kesey’s novel, which has won several Tony Awar ...

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Mitch Leigh

Mitch Leigh (1928-2014) was a composer, producer, director, and businessman from Brooklyn. Pianist Arthur Rubenstein said of Leigh, “He’s the most brilliant composer writing for the musical theater today.” He is best-known as the Tony Award-winning composer of Man of La Mancha, for which he also won ...

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Joe Darion

Joe Darion (1917-2001) worked in every field in which words are put to music, from popular songs to works for the concert stage. His opera based on Don Marquis' immortal characters Archy and Mehitabel was turned into the Broadway musical Shinbone Alley, for which Mr. Darion supplied the book and lyrics. Pop ...

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